Boston church pays $3.2 million of neighbors’ medical debts

LISTEN HERE>> This article is an adaptation of the Stories of Hope podcast episode, Your Debt Has Been Paid.

Every year, the average American accrues more than $10,000 in medical expenses. The average hospital stay now costs more than $5,000 a day. And right now, 79 million Americans are having to make a choice — pay for food and shelter, or pay medical bills.

“Medical debt is a different kind of debt. You didn’t look at the price of a big screen TV, decide to go buy it for $1,000 and then not be able to pay your credit card. This was, you had an illness or an accident or injury and now you’ve got a $1,000 bill and you can’t pay it. And some people, they never will be able to pay it,” explained Craig Antico, co-founder of RIP Medical Debt.


In 2011, Matt Chewning, lead pastor of Netcast Church in Danvers, Massachusetts and his friend Travis Snyder planted Netcast Church. Church planting is hard enough, but they started a church in a community full of people wondering why they even needed a church.

“That’s something you fight a lot in the Northeast: they don’t see the Church as a good organization. They don’t always see it as good for the community. They don’t see it as good for their families. They see it as this antiquated thing that makes no real difference,” said Chewning. “And so, for us, we realized we needed to continually remind people that we’re not just some organization that sees every single person as some sort of mission project, but we really believe in meeting the needs of people.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Travis and Matt were reminding their church how important it was to meet people’s needs, one of their members — who had a financial mind — came to them with an idea. He came across an organization called RIP Medical Debt.


 “We’re not a mission-driven company, we’re not a faith-based organization. But the craziest thing is we didn’t come up with this idea. Forgiving debt goes back to Biblical times. So, the jubilee, it’s a way of giving. It’s been a way of caring about others, letting them have a fresh start,” said Antico.

In March 2020, when the coronavirus was taking over the world, Netcast Church was crunching numbers and talking about healthcare.

“We started putting numbers to it and we thought, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool if we eliminated the medical debt for the entire East Coast of Massachusetts? And the number we had in mind for what we wanted to invest in and really, really give generously was right at the number that it would take to erase the medical debt for the entire East Coast,” said Snyder.


In late March, Netcast Church sent a check to RIP Medical Debt and a few weeks later thousands of their neighbors received a letter saying “Netcast Church has paid off your medical bills.”  

We are able to alleviate $3.2 million of medical debt. And it all came around Easter, where the primary message is, ‘Your debt has been paid. It’s finished,” said Chewning.

The kingdom of God is filled with stories of hope, relief and redemption — even in the middle of a world-wide pandemic. And the local expressions of Christ’s bride don’t have to be big to make a lasting impact on their neighbors.

“We’re not that huge and we don’t have the biggest budget in the world, but when you build a culture of generosity within the entirety of your church, not just calling your church to give so you can have cool lights, but instead, you are demonstrating the love of Jesus — and you can’t talk about generosity without talking about Jesus. Because God so loved the world, He did what? He gave. He gave. He gave. And so, as much as we were alleviating medical debt for people, this was like an offering to the Lord,” said Chewning.

LISTEN HERE>> This article is an adaptation of the Stories of Hope podcast episode, Your Debt Has Been Paid.

To learn more about how your church or church plant can meet the needs of your community, visit

Published October 28, 2020

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